Martina Reisz Newberry: “Initialed”


A well-known someone
once wrote a poem for me.
To my delight, it showed up
in a literary journal of some repute
and then in an actual book.

My initials were there,
right under the title and following
the word for. I was delighted
that this fine poet had discovered
words meant especially for me

and I hadn’t even slept with him
or chatted him up flirtatiously.
My friends, I ask you to imagine it:
a poem for me who ground away
at her own poems—hustling

the hell out of every line,
always afraid that my lack
of credentials would become
oh-so-apparent in my ignorance
of literary intricacies. I must tell you:

that poem didn’t care one bit
about my lack of formal education.
It mentioned beauty and had an
understanding inside it that claimed
the right to know what beauty is

and what it is worth. “It doesn’t matter
that you aren’t beautiful,” my father said.
“It matters whether or not you are smart.”
He, too, had discovered words just for me.

This all happened years ago. The poem
with my initials happened 35 years ago.
When I remember or dream, I forget which,
it is those initials I see: for _______.
Those initials are what I believe.


Martina Reisz Newberry’s most recent book is BLUES FOR FRENCH ROAST WITH CHICORY, (2019 from Deerbrook Editions). She is included in The Sixty Four Best Poets of 2018 (Black Mountain Press). Newberry is widely published in literary journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles.

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